When I take self-assessment tests, I always struggle with answering the questions honestly. It seems obvious to me what the ‘right’ answers would be to come off looking good or to get placed into a category I think will yield the most benefit. I’ve learned from experience though, it’s really best just to go ahead and get real. The last thing you want to do is get committed to a situation that ultimately becomes uncomfortable to your very nature. Even so, I still have to catch myself trying to appear as something I’m not when doing these kinds of personal evaluation quizzes.
So when I did my first Ayurveda-based, dosha self-analysis - here - a few years ago, I had to fight the tendency to align myself with traits I perceived as appealing just to put myself into a ‘cool category’. Astrologically, I’m a Leo whose ruling planet is the sun so my inclination right off the bat was to answer from the fiery pitta point of view. Many of the typical pitta traits were also appealing to me, so before I even got done with the test I kind of assumed that… ‘Yeah, I’m that one.’ Now, I totally realize that taking a simple online quiz does not an Ayurvedic expert make me. It’s given me something more to study though and to appreciate a bit deeper, which I’ve tried to do. As my understanding of the other doshas has grown a bit and I started to honestly look at the full spectrum of my personae as they related to Ayurveda, it was the (not-so-appealing to me) kapha category that I found myself identifying with a lot more. For example, although I’ve actively exercised all my life on a fairly regular schedule, my free time is often spent in more sedentary activities. If I don’t consciously expend the energy to try new things and to push myself to get up and going, my real tendency is just to sink back into very familial routines. Oh, how I envy those happy-go-lucky vatas sometimes!
This leads me finally to one of my favorite hobbies. My early childhood was spent living very near the ocean. I had an uncle that took me sailing on a regular basis. I remember what a profound influence that had on me, like I was really being challenged somehow just sitting on that boat being guided by the wind, let alone being out in the ocean with no foreseeable boundaries or edges in sight. It was one of the first things I ever did that was both soothing and uncomfortable, at the same time. Many years later after our family moved to the Midwest, I went to a summer camp to learn how to sail myself. Although I loved learning how to navigate the breeze and spending time on the water; in many ways the activity itself felt very discomforting once again. I only went to this camp that one summer. The awkward, unsteady state of sailing stuck with me as a strong memory though. Then a few years ago I found myself in one of those doldroms periods and wanted to shake things up. I read somewhere a good way to get out of those times is to look back at hobbies you once enjoyed as an avenue to explore for excitement. So, I went out and bought a small sailboat. The couple of years I owned it turned out to be a great personal learning experience. I knew nothing about doshic tendencies – this being a few years before yoga took hold in my life. Again, I want to accentuate I’m certainly no expert on the matter of Ayurveda here, but as I look back on it now, I can see that sailing is about as vata an activity as something can get. It was a great thing to be doing to counterbalance my strong kapha tendencies without me even knowing it. It helps to explain the strange feelings I had wrapped up in the activity and also showed me how far back in life certain inherent traits can start to take hold. So what am I going to do more of this summer? Well, I don’t have my sailboat any longer but the idea of launching bubbles into the wind at Yoga Rocks the Park –KC this Sunday sounds like a great idea!